It is a highly depressing thought that, like a child who smashes his magnificent building block tower to the ground, people seem compelled to create greatness, then destroy it. Perhaps it is inevitable, inescapable, much like the bloom and decay of life itself. It seems if given half a chance, human beings like nothing better than to spend their precious days carefully crafting the most exquisite handbasket, never seeing the letters "H-E-L-L" weaved into the design until it is too late.

My handbasket is the United States of America. I love my country for its incredible physical beauty and variety, strong and generous people, and limitless opportunities. The latter quality is what defines this nation the most: that citizens have the ability to go beyond class, gender, or race to make the most of their lives, educationally, economically, and creatively. It's often a hard fight up the hill, yes, but in so many places in the world, you don't even get the chance to climb at all. How often we forget this, and take it for granted.

So it is beyond sad to me to see where we have landed at the end of 2010, at the mercy of politicians, judges, and lawyers who are picking apart the Constitution to feed bitter personal agendas and power alliances. Intended to protect us all, the Constitution is rapidly becoming nothing but a legal vulture feed station, and will end up protecting no one. It is hard to envision a functional America if this trend continues.

My head-banging despair comes today from a conservative judge's ruling that a key piece of the new health care legislation is unconstitutional. To distill it to its bare bones, the judge found via the Commerce Clause that Congress could not require citizens to purchase any commercial product, which is in this case, health insurance. Now on the face of it, this seems completely reasonable, and the Republican lawyers presented their argument well -- you don't want the government intruding into your personal buying decisions or forcing you to get something you don't want, right? But the health care issue and the whole accompanying medical insurance industry debacle is a profoundly different matter here, and must be dealt with in a smarter, broader way than the fearmongers are delivering.

Once again, how about a little reality and common sense? Our individual rights do NOT extend to contributing to bankrupt our country, one uninsured person after another. Affordable, subsidized insurance available to ALL, REGARDLESS of current or former health status, keeps people OUT of the far more expensive emergency medical system, which is now so overburdened in many states as to be nonfunctional. May I remind everyone:

1. People are human beings, and all human beings require medical care at some point; some more, some less, but ALL. People who choose not to buy insurance or cannot afford it won't just take their lumps and go die in a hole somewhere. They will wait in filthy, overcrowded ERs or understaffed clinics to get help. They will often wait to do so until they are so sick they can't stand it anymore, and when the costs of treatment are much higher. They will lose their jobs, won't be able to find others. Their children will miss school. They will receive bills that they can never pay.

2. The ability for ALL U.S. citizens to obtain quality and timely medical care, including preventative or "well" care, not only positively impacts individual health outcomes, but SAVES the government and hospital industry (and by "government," please read "tax payers," which is you and me) BILLIONS OF DOLLARS PER YEAR. All y'all, Republicans, Dems, Libertarians, Librarians, Argumentarians, read that again, because it is the truth. Uncompensated medical care costs are killing us. Dealing with it upfront is FAR less expensive.

3. WE pay for EVERYONE'S health decisions one way or another, whether you think you do or not. The cost of having an unhealthy population is ruinous to the ECONOMIC HEALTH and FUTURE of our country. Health care doesn't belong in the hands of business, for their decisions are not made for the benefit of the human beings who would like to remain well or get well. Their decisions are solely made to put money in the pockets of the business owners, and people die because of it. Do not even think for a second that you couldn't be one of them.

I expect my country, my beautiful, crazy country, to protect us all. The Commerce Clause was a slimy way to try to prevent President Obama's health care legislation from moving forward from an unacceptable, dangerous, and cruel social ill -- the functional inability for millions of Americans to enjoy the one thing that all other things depend upon: good health. Those entrusted to serve the public through thoughtful legal study and application instead use the Constitution against the best interests of our nation.

Should this ruling stand through the inevitable Supreme Court visit, the outcome for some  people will be death, as surely as if these well-paid, sheltered lawyers shot them point-blank. For the rest of us, we must watch our country's mission degrade day by day, as we are forced to step into a fiery, well-crafted handbasket.